Survey Finds Narrowing Pay Gap

From Associated Press

Women’s salaries are starting to catch up and, in some fields, surpass men’s. But more typically, women still earn 5 cents to 15 cents less on the dollar than do men in similar jobs, Working Woman magazine reported Monday.

The magazine found the pay gap for women narrowed significantly in 1995 in some jobs, such as computer analyst, but it widened in others. For instance, female bank tellers, brokers and other financial service representatives made 55% what their male counterparts earned, down from 66% in 1994.

The survey--using figures provided by professional associations, compensation consultants, trade publications and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics--reviewed 28 fields for which salaries were available by sex. It found that a woman typically earned 85 cents to 95 cents per a man’s dollar.


“One of the big problems facing women is not that they get paid less when they have the same job with the same experience,” said Diane Harris, the article’s author. “The problem is that women are clustered in traditionally female, lower-paying jobs.”

The survey found that pay inequities varied by industry and position. Female health managers at hospitals earned about $30,212, or 68% of a man’s $44,200. That was a decrease from 1994, when women in those positions earned 79% of men’s wages.

Harris said she could not explain why salaries decreased in some areas.

The news for women was brighter in other fields, with some female professionals earning more than their male colleagues.

For instance, a female chief financial officer at a university or college earned $104,506, compared with her male counterpart’s $95,004, about 110% as much. But a female chief executive at a university typically earned $138,800, compared with a man’s $155,500, or about 89% as much.

“There are very few women who make it into those positions, and those who do are highly, highly qualified,” Harris said. “The problem for those women is not pay equity, it’s getting there in the first place.”

The figures can disagree.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that women earn 74 cents to a man’s dollar.

Harris said that’s because the bureau does not compare comparable jobs. “It lumps all jobs that women hold and all jobs that men hold,” she said.


Ellen Bravo, executive director of 9to5, the National Assn. of Working Woman, cautioned that it can be misleading to categorize women as a homogeneous group.

“It’s true that women in higher-level jobs are doing better, and we should all be proud of them, but the majority of women are not in higher-level jobs,” she said. “And for many, particularly women of color, they continue to toil in jobs that are undervalued and low-paid simply because they’re done primarily by women.”

She cited figures from the National Committee for Pay Equity, which used Bureau of Labor Statistics figures to determine that as of 1994, white women earned 75% of the wage earned by white men, black women earned 63% as much as white men, and Latina women earned 56% as much as white men.